Tide Turns Case 3

A Witness to the Second Inaugural

When Abraham Lincoln prepared his Second Inaugural Address, he could have just written a chest-thumping victory speech. By March 1865, U. S. forces were pushing back Confederate armies on all fronts and occupying increasing amounts of Southern territory. In a little over a month, Richmond, Virginia, would fall, and Robert E. Lee would surrender. Yet instead of touting this success, Lincoln delivered something closer to a sermon musing on the causes and meaning of the national catastrophe he and his audience had endured.

According to family lore, Sarah Gowdy—then in her early 20s—was in the audience that day. She braved the cool weather in this dress, perhaps having traveled all the way from her father’s farm in Xenia, Ohio, to hear Lincoln’s words. Three years later, she would marry Lysander Tulleys, who at the time of Lincoln’s speech was fighting for the United States as a lieutenant colonel.

Gift of Mellie John, 1964

AC-LR140 – 2nd Inaugural Dress


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